"Suppose one little old lady in ten carries a gun. Suppose that one in ten of those, if attacked by a mugger, succeeds in killing the mugger instead of being killed by him -- or shooting herself in the foot. On average, the mugger is much more likely to win the encounter than the little old lady. But -- also on average -- every hundred muggings produces one dead mugger. At those odds, mugging is an unprofitable business -- not many little old ladies carry enough money to justify one chance in a hundred of being killed getting it. The number of muggers declines drastically, not because they have all been killed but because they have, rationally, sought safer professions."
David D. Friedman
(1945- ) American economist, physicist, legal scholar, and libertarian theorist
Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life (New York: Harper, 1996), p. 299
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Anonymous      
But if not we 99 dead old ladies
 -- Robert, Sarasota     
    A liberal is a conservative who has not been mugged yet. If a criminal kills every little old lady he attacks, then every little old lady is better off carrying a gun. The question becomes "Will we run out of little old ladies or criminals first?" If 0.2% of the population are violent criminals and 6% are little old ladies, criminals are outnumbered 30 to 1 ... so we run out of criminals first!
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
    If the criminal knows you have the gun, then they are more likely to shoot first... law abiding citizens do not win the war on crime by brandishing weapons, they just cause an escalation in the war... it is no different than the "war" on drugs, or prohibition in the early 20th century... or a "war" on terror... they are all doomed to failure because "war" is the wrong tool for the right job.
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
    The house communist shoots his own argument in the foot. Alcohol and drugs are consumables. Guns are durable. I have guns that are 100+ years old and still deadly. You can't stop people from having guns any more then you can stop them from having the consumables. Laws only work against those who are willing to obey them. The areas with the most gun control have the highest crime. Law abiding gun owner do win the war on crime. Look at VT vs Appalachian School of Law. Armed citizen-students stopped the latter. Comrade Reston, why don't you stick a GUN FREE ZONE sign in your front yard and stand up for your beliefs. Or you could stick your head back in the ground, actually there is probably a much more appropriate dark place.
     -- helorat, Milton     
    Look, it is simple. Criminals will ALWAYS have weapons -- and there will always be 'criminals'. The citizen CAN be trusted with their own personal power -- it however does not relieve him/her from the responsibilities of those powers. In a free country, we do not try to limit the power of the individual because of the dangers posed to the ruling class. A disarmed people have always been subjugated -- to think that it can't happen here is ludicrous. It is high time the busy-bodies of this country backed off -- we don't need your saving or your protection, we can handle it, thank you. Who will protect us from you? We have seen the enemy, and it is us. ;-)
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    A. from Reston makes a good argument for concealed carry. The criminal should not know who has or does not have a gun. He should know that one out of ten of his victims will be armed and may kill him. He might decide he doesn't want to play Russian roulette. Reston is also right about brandishing a weapon. If you draw it, you should be prepared to kill with it. That's how you win the war against crime. If not, perhaps the police should disarm as well as us lowly peon citizens.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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